Building iPad Applications with Flash

Today Apple announced the Apple iPad and like many of you, we at Adobe are looking forward to getting our hands on one of these devices. This is an exciting time to be a software designer with an explosion of new devices and we look forward to helping Flash developers and designers bring innovative applications to these devices using our tools and frameworks.

We announced the Packager for iPhone at MAX 2009 which will allow Flash developers to create native iPhone applications and will be available in the upcoming version of Flash Pro CS5. This technology enables developers to create applications for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad (though applications will not initially take direct advantage of iPad’s new screen resolution). It is our intent to make it possible for Flash developers to build applications that can take advantage of the increased screen size and resolution of the iPad.

Flash developers are used to being able to create rich expressive content that run well across multiple screens. The Flash Platform already provides developers with the ability to create applications without making assumptions about screen resolution and pixel density. Our very own Christian Cantrell has posted an in-depth article on the Adobe Developer Connection, Authoring For Multiple Screen Sizes, that details best practices in creating applications that run on multiple screens. If you want to prepare applications today that will work great on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, follow the guidelines from this article today.

While we put the finishing touches on the Packager for iPhone, we have invited a few developers and designers to join a closed pre-release program. As they are testing it and giving us feedback, they also have been able to use it to build some applications that they have submitted to the iTunes App Store. Here are some recent iPhone applications that you can find in the App Store now:

GoldStrike_small.pngGold Strike
This popular action/puzzle game has been around for nearly a decade and played by millions. You are a miner who has struck gold! But the mine is unstable. Remove gold by finding groups of blocks as tremors fill the mine up.


Dr. Alan Acierno has created a Brush application which times every tooth and section of the mouth to help you brush 3 minutes twice a day

To follow news from the Flash Platform Team about the iPhone Packager and other new developments, follow us at @Flash_Platform

As a result of Apple’s updated legal terms (section 3.3.1 of the Apple iPhone SDK License Agreement), Apple is no longer permitting these applications to be delivered to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users through the Apple App Store. This a legal restriction imposed by Apple and is not a technical limitation of Adobe AIR or Adobe Flash Professional CS5.

At this time, we have ceased further development of the Packager for iPhone, and we plan to keep this completed work in CS5 to demonstrate the capabilities of the Flash Platform to support multiple platforms and devices. We have already started the pre-release of AIR for Android and will shift our investment there and to other technologies, in addition to the work we have already been doing on Flash Player 10.1 for Android. We believe Android will enable a series of very competitive devices in the market and are working closely with Google and other Open Screen Project (OSP) partners on this.

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59 thoughts on “Building iPad Applications with Flash

  1. when are you going to bring Flash to Android? The Beta doesn’t count. Are you just waiting for Apple to cut a deal with you first?

  2. When are you guys going to fix the flash runtime on the mac? It still consumes 85% of the CPU for flash apps that do almost nothing. Also, the same thing exists for Linux platforms as well.

  3. I’m sorry to say this but it seems Flash will be made redundant by jQuery and HTML5 because of these actions by Apple (iPhone, iPad) and Google (YouTube -> HTML5). Just like Microsoft killed OpenGL (to push their own DirectX).

  4. Hey guys, I’m not part of Adobe, but I thought I’d try to throw a couple of answers out there…


    To JOHN:
    The teams at Adobe can obviously speak to this more in depth than I can, but I’ve read (in several places) that it’s an issue with the Mac allowing the Flash Player to access the “needed hardware decoding support” (like it can on a Windows machine) and I’ve also read that they are working on it. Check out the “On Mac vs. Windows performance” section of this post:

    And finally, to ALAN STATHAM:
    Great piece of helpful and constructive input you have there! Keep it up!

  5. Hey DICK,

    OpenGL is killed? huh? OpenGL ES 1.1 and 2.0 is what drives Android, iPhone and is probably the underlying renderer for this Flash Packager. Windows Mobile may even adopt OpenGL ES. Also OpenGL is used on almost all video games today except Valves’ (you can usually switch between directx and opengl). One such small company is Blizzard that WoW, Diablo etc are all built to run on a Mac with OpenGL.

    Next time when you try to make a point don’t shoot yourself in your own.

  6. Please push out CS5 with Apple exports quickly guys. I have to deliver the likes of digitalmedia publishing like tomorrow ad would prefer to avoid appcelerator et al to get it done.
    I know you can do this – i have faith. Been doing flash since John Gay and future splash, and now its my richmedia authoring preference – all platforms, one pile of source files. Pls over the years i have spent well over 15k on your software.

    get ‘er done up thanks

  7. This is great news! I was wondering about this all day yesterday. One little think, your Twitter link goes to @FlashPlatform instead of @Flash_Platform

  8. Apps? How about browsing? How about developing a ‘business class’ web browsing device that can’t view Flash. Steve Jobs boasts about the iPad being the ultimate web browsing device and while he’s showcasing the New York Times website at his keynote speech he amazingly bypasses the fact that there’s a dead spot on the site. Flash isn’t important. Who cares…

    Adobe and Apple used to be like peanut butter and Jelly. The only software people had on a Mac SE, FXII, Quadra G3, G4 or whatever piece of hardware was Adobe or Quark. Or maybe Aldus / Macromedia. Adobe wasn’t even available on a PC back in the day.

    Anyway, who cares about developing apps for the darn device if it can browse at the basic level. I don’t want to hear about them waiting or HTML 5 because that’s a generation away in tech years…

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  10. When will Flash stop being so poorly written that it’s the number one cause of application hangs in Mac OS?

  11. Flash CS5 got me interested, but we don’t do Flash anymore. So good to see progress on Slider. Many customers are waiting for Slider to release, so that we can embrace the new platforms.

    @Greg: Good going! Am really eager to try the prerelease!

    @Peldi: Mockups on iPod / iPhone / iPad?? Mockups for iPad will really be cool.

  12. Balls. I’ve been using Flash/Flex for development since 1998 and it never hangs, ever, unless something is poorly coded. It’s also only marginally slower on OS X. People make a lot of this, but the truth is a well-coded AS3 program will only do a few things slower on a mac. If you get rid of Flash, there will be plenty of other ways to deliver ads. And yes, there are some crummy Flash sites out there that make poor use of the technology, but it’s far more common to have your browser hung by a badly written Javascript site.

    On the other hand, there’s nothing out there that comes close for writing games and apps in the browser, and HTML5+JS frankly will not take its place for years, if ever. Moreover, AS3 is a very nice ECMA implementation that has a lot going for it, and it’s very fast to develop with. The people showing up saying things like “flash must die” have been saying that for years; I remember guys telling me it was better to use animated GIFs for banners back in ’98, because Flash wasn’t going to be around much longer. Well, I’m glad it is, or else I’d be compiling source on three different platforms and life would be a much bigger pain in the *** for my clients.

  13. When are you guys going to fix 30-60% CPU usage on my Ubuntu Linux and Mac OSX boxes?

    I rarely have crashes but the high amount of CPU usage is pathetic. As a result, the fans run at a higher speed, the PC is louder and uses more power. Fortunately, I am plugged in the power socket and can burn more coal to play those time wasting Facebook games or watch those annoying Flash ads.

  14. Adobe really, really, really needs to support iPad from day 1. There is a real opportunity to ‘own’ the platform if they get in there quickly: objective-c is just horrific IMO – it’s not something a UI web developer can step into easily at all.

    Personally AS3 is probably the language I’m most comfortable with (apart from JS), and having missed the iPhone boat, and with not enough hours in the day to learn objective-c from scratch, writing AS3 apps for our magazine bound for iPad would be liberating, not to mention fun!

    But if support ships a significant time after iPads are first hit the market, it would be too late I think.

    My dream would be to be able to dedicate some time right now to work on our magazine project as a native iPad app too, and using AS3 would be perfection (we could focus on the UI, rather than the pain of coding).

  15. It is so much fun to build these applications. I appreciate you showing me how its done. I really love this site. Keep up the hard work.

    Thanks Jane Mansfield
    Ilios Reisen

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  22. I think its so cool that you can build these applications. Hopefully I can learn how to make these myself. It seems very interesting to me actually.

    Thanks Melia Tucker

  23. this is indeed an exciting time for the software designers.its gonna help them all.And i guess all these devices are going to keep them busy all throughout the of luck with their app creations

  24. I was VERY upset at Apple’s developer agreement changes back in April a few days before the release of CS5 as I know AS3 very well and was looking forward to a very quick and easy way for me to create applications for iOS. With Apple’s reversal now, (probably to avoid further FTC investigation as well as because their damage has already been done to Adobe) I was looking forward to getting stuck into the Packager for iPhone. Well, it’s not looking good as a product that is. I’ve bought/downloaded EVERY iphone app created in Flash and they are total crap – including the GoldStrike app mentioned here. Who designed these games?? Adobe highlights them as if they are hero apps, but the graphic design is amateurish (ok that is aesthetics) but most importantly **their perfomance is very bad!** — poor frame rates, no examples of smooth animation in any flash iphone app, and poor touch responsiveness. In FickleBlocks and in GoldStrike – both the best of a bad bunch. I really really hope that it is bad programming and not a result of the packager’s architecture or limitations. I will do some tests myself, but for a real, decent game with nice animation it is NOT looking good…. I’m gutted. Maybe we need OpenGLES only to do that on this platform – which means Objective C and Xcode or Unity3d….?

  25. I should follow up by saying I LOVE AS3 and Flash and it is the fastest easiest best performing way to make rich interactive apps on the web for the least effort and cost – people who bash Flash because of lame intros to websites in the 90s are out of touch.

    And Jobs saying Flash would result in poor quality apps in the appstore is a red herring – clearly he must love those the thousands of fart apps and the mirror apps written in Obj C.

    However if this Adobe solution cannot compete performance-wise due to technical reasons in the translation then this is purely going to be a prototype or non-game app use only. and that would suck.

  26. Also it is another red herring to discuss poor Flashplayer performance on the Mac in the context of Flash as an iOS native app development tool. Those are 2 totally different products and situations. As Flashplayer works wonderfully on Windows and Linux, it can work better with better hardware acceleration on the MacOS if Apple plays ball with Adobe.

    But that has nothing to do with native iOS apps done by porting swfs/AS3 to .ipas – and unfortunately with the quality of apps I’ve seen with the packager for iPhone it is most likely unusable for any good animated apps or games. I hope Adobe releases a killer upgrade to Flash CS5 soon which addresses this….

  27. I’m so excited. Tested my first Flash app on the iPhone. When can we build an iPad resolution app on the packager? C’mon, its not that tough, is it?

  28. My laptop crashed 6 times last nite in 3 hrs because I was trying to open some flash site,,,, lame,

  29. If you build an RSS reader into your iPhone (iPad iPod) app, and you want to do it with flash professional then the app I just got approved today may help you.

    flash2app provide working demo and complete code snippets for a simple 2.0 RSS reader, accessing the accelerometer to move a ball on the screen, and accessing the GPS for longitude and latitude.

  30. I could imagine that the additional layer (Flash) has advantages, but I havent heard of any conceptual advantages. What is the specific conceptual novelty which you can bring in with Flash? If you forget about the costs etc., just think in terms of the user, what is the real difference between a flash game and a game written by the official SDK? Would be great to get answers… thanks.

  31. There is a reason why Android (+tablets), BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Mobile, iPhone (even with the distinction to the iPad, iPod) are offering SDK to build apps. I agree with Adobe that quantity plays a critical role, so I do when I say quality is vital too.

  32. Flash, there will be plenty of other ways to deliver ads. And yes, there are some crummy Flash sites out there that make poor use of the technology, but it’s far more common to have your browser hung by a badly written

  33. It is great for developers who use actionscript and adobe products to be able to create for the Apple Market.
    I tested an iphone app which was created from scratch, and it worked great. Why isn;t there an iPad publish setting yet available?